This ESRC-funded project investigates how changing immigration policies and human rights interpretations affect individuals at risk of removal, as well as their British family members. Researchers followed 30 mixed-nationality families between 2014-17. The families consisted of foreign national men with precarious or unlawful immigration status, and their British or European Economic Area partners and children. The research data includes interviews with the couples, and practitioners from legal, private, state and civil society sectors, as well as policy analysis and observation of deportation appeals and other immigration hearings.
The research found that precarious immigration status and the risk of immigration detention and deportation have potentially catastrophic effect on the whole family, including children and British citizens. Living under chronic insecurity, with restricted access to employment or services, and the ongoing threat or reality of separation by detention or removal, lead to extreme harm to people’s private lives, relationships, finances, stability and physical and mental health. This includes British children, who experience detriment to their standard of living, behaviour, school attainment, mental well-being and feelings of Britishness and belonging. The findings also suggested gendered, racialised and classed biases to the recognition, respect and valuing of family life, ones which reinforce longstanding stereotypes of failed ethnic minority fathers.